Above: Masar (blue) leads home Roaring Lion (burgundy) and Saxon Warrior (purple) in last month’s Investec Derby
We won’t have much longer to wait. Sandown Park at 2,10 on Saturday is the venue for the eagerly anticipated rematch between the impressive Investec Derby winner Masar, the brilliant Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, and the highly talented Dante Stakes winner Roaring Lion, in the Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes.
These three fine racehorses have been taking each other on all season. First, Masar slammed Roaring Lion by over nine lengths in the Group 3 Craven Stakes over a mile at Newmarket in April, then the pair finished third and fifth respectively behind the hugely impressive Aidan O’Brien-trained Saxon Warrior in the Qipco 2000 Guineas in early-May.
Roaring Lion then stepped up to a mile-and-a-quarter and slammed a decent field in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes at York, before he met his two old adversies once again, this time at Epsom over a mile-and-a-half in the Investec Derby. The result was a comprehensive victory from Charlie Appleby’s Masar, who beat RoaringLion (third) by two lengths, while the hot favoruite, Saxon Warrior, never managed to land a blow a further two lengths away in fourth.
Masar and Roaring Lion have been kept fresh since then with a view to meeting again in the Eclipse, but Saxon Warrior ran only last Saturday when again seeming to find the Derby trip just beyond his best in finishing third to Latrobe at the Curragh. It’s something a surprise to see him take his chance again so soon after that tough race.
“Masar seems in great form,” reported Appleby on Friday. “One thing William [Buick] said after the Guineas was that he felt like a 10-furlong horse against milers. I go in there very confident with the horse that we’ve got and he has got form around there.”
“I think the Guineas is the best form,” suggested Roaring Lion’s trainer, John Gosden, “so to that extent we’ve got it all to do. But we know a mile and a quarter on top of the ground suits us.”
“Obviously he hasn’t done anything since [the Irish Derby] and we’ll watch him closely all the way up to the race, but he seems to have taken it well,” said O’Brien of Saxon Warrior. “We won’t really know until we run him, but he seems very well.”
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.